The Top 10 Films of 2013

12 Years a Slave

12YAS-Poster-ArtSteve McQueen’s third film (following Hunger and Shame) and a bona fide masterpiece, 12 Years is an unflinching, uncompromising look at slavery in the American south. It’s painful and emotionally harrowing, and makes no attempt to make anyone feel good about not only this history but the long-reaching effects of it, which we’re still feeling today. 12 Years is not The Help, congratulating white people for ending racism in 1962. Instead it holds up a mirror to an ugly, unavoidable truth and asks only that we accept it and then figure out how to move on from there. It’s a beautiful film, almost lyrical at times, even for all the ugliness it contains. And with a central message of hope and survival in the face of soul-crushing despair, it’s one that, even though there are no easy answers, doesn’t give up on the possibility of healing. It’s not an easy watch, but it’s a necessary one. Continue reading “The Top 10 Films of 2013”

All Is Lost: Also confirming that we all die alone

all_is_lost_xlgLast month, I very much enjoyed Gravity. It’s visually arresting, anchored by Sandra Bullock’s best performance, featured Chairman George, and was an effective, if literal, thriller. It’s also a great narrative representation of my personal philosophy that everything is meaningless, there’s no point to anything, and we all die alone. Gravity alleviated the inherent bleakness of that sentiment, though, by giving us hope that, in the end, there can be hope, if for no other reason than we wake up and decide to be hopeful that day. Well, late last week I caught a screening of writer/director JC Chandor’s follow up to Margin Call, a lost-at-sea story starring Robert Redford called All Is Lost. Here are two facts that sum up the experience of watching All Is Lost: 1) The only things that make me cry are Hallmark commercials during the holidays and that one sappy Budweiser commercial where the horse remembers his trainer, and 2) I wept my way through All Is Lost. Continue reading “All Is Lost: Also confirming that we all die alone”